The 1993 Uefa Champions League winner Abedi Ayew Pele has tipped Olympique Marseille, his former club, to overcome Inter in tonight’s Champions League second-leg clash in the last 16.
In an exclusive interview with Goal.com, the African football legend said the French Ligue 1 outfit have shown signs of commitment and bravado throughout the campaign, despite their youthfulness, and will come up tops to advance to the quarter-finals.
His son, Andre Ayew, grabbed the winner for Marseille in stoppage time when both sides met in the first leg to give them an advantage heading to San Siro. However, the four-time African Player of the Year is aware that Les Phoceens still have all to do before they can eliminate the Nerazzurri.
“It’s going to be a very difficult and tight game,” Abedi told Goal.com. “Marseille had a narrow win which has given them a slight advantage over Inter, but having said that, it doesn’t mean Marseille will automatically qualify.”
“They have to go through a battle for them to come out with success. You can also see that Marseille are a team that when they are playing against the big clubs, they always come up with some sensational performances. We just cross our fingers and hope Marseille go through and I hope they do with the slight advantage that they have.”
Two of Pele’s sons – Andre and Jordan Ayew – play for the Didier Deschamps' side and the former Ghana international confessed that as a father, he goes through a lot of stressful moments ahead of such big games.
“I feel proud and happy, but at the same time I have mixed feelings; it becomes a stressful day because you want them to perform and you become tensed like them. It’s a mixed feeling and if they win at the end of the day, I’ll become a relieved father,” Pele said.
Before Andre’s winner against Inter, the last time OM had won a knockout game in the Champions League was in the famous 1993 final against Milan, where Abedi set up the winning goal for Basile Boli. The 47-year-old Ghanaian still has fond memories of that game.
“That match was a very difficult one because on paper Milan were better, but the reality was that we played better," Abedi recalled.
"Marseille had a great team at that time. Losing in 1991 against Red Star Belgrade in the final really motivated us to win in 1993. We didn’t see the strength of Milan at that time because we were just going for the trophy.”
He then told Goal.com that the current crop of players at OM will begin to shine in the coming seasons, and will begin to win a succession of trophies just like the side from his era.
“It is really true that we had great players in 1993. But football has changed and today we have young players like Jordan and Dede [Andre] and Marseille have invested in a lot of young players, so I wouldn’t like to compare the team of today to our time.
“I can say they have a strong team, but the little difference is that we were consistent and were winning the league, the cup, and we pursued to win the Champions League.
"I must also admit that these are young players who have to deal with a lot of matches each season. I think the future is very bright and in the next two to three seasons they can begin to win successive trophies and the Champions League like Barcelona. I have confidence in them and they are a team to watch,” Pele pointed out.
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